The historic Shaniwar Wada fort in the heart of Pune city, Maharashtra has a lot of intrigues associated with it. Even 288 years after it was built, the fort and its interiors have some mysterious elements, eliciting fear among visitors.
Shaniwar Wada was constructed by Baji Rao, the 'peshwa' or prime minister, of Maratha emperor Shahu, a descendent of Shivaji. The fort was completed in the year 1732 and Baji Rao started his stay on January 22, 1732, which was a Saturday (Shaniwar).
Even now, the defenses of the fort which were meant to repulse attacks by Mughal forces, and the stunning architecture inspire awe among visitors. The fort has five gates – Delhi Gate, Mastani Gate, Khidki Darwaza, Ganapathi Gate, and Narayan Gate. Moreover, large gardens and fountains add to the beauty of the place.
The fort earned notoriety in 1773 after Narayana Rao, the then peshwa, was murdered by his uncle and aunt in an act of treachery. Even in the present day, the soul of Narayana Rao is believed to wander around the fort and on full-moon nights screams, shrieks and wails could be heard, as per local lore.
The fort is familiar to Bollywood fans thanks to the movie 'Baji Rao Mastani.' Baji Rao II had lost the possession of Shaniwar Wada after he was defeated by the British. Stripped of his power and titles, Baji Rao II was subsequently expelled from the kingdom.
Shaniwar Wada has suffered extensive damage over the years, but it still attracts a large number of visitors.